Castle ITIL really is so insular and parochial it is laughable

[Updated: I have apologised for the tone of this posting and moderated the language.]
The ITIL establishment is still up to its old ways. Take a look at this (read it here: it is secret - you can't read it anywhere else) [updated: now you can again]

itSMF International is having a Chapter Leadership Conference. Good. About time itSMF did something to mentor and support new chapters.

Perhaps you are a recognised expert in some area of managing or governing volunteer bodies, maybe a university academic. Perhaps you have worked with say ISACA for the last decade and feel you have learnt a thing or two. You feel you have something of value to impart to itSMF to help this obviously naive and struggling organisation mature. Can you present? No.

Look at this:

The itSMF International is seeking qualified, experienced faculty to present at the first itSMF Chapter Leadership Conference (“CLC”)...
the follow criteria must be met by selected faculty members.
Required criteria:
Current member of an itSMF Chapter in good standing
A minimum of 3 years experience in Chapter leadership
Evidence of service and commitment to the itSMF Community

Desired criteria:
Recognized industry advocacy, eg., IOSM Fellow
Extensive public speaking experience
Manager Level ITIL Certification or equivalent (as indication of industry commitment)

(it is from here but only a tiny percentage of readers will be authorised to access it [updated: now it is accessible again, but fat lot of good that will do you as only a tiny tiny tiny percentage of readers will meet the criteria])

Let me paraphrase: if you aren't one of the itSMF establishment you don't have anything useful to say to this organisation.


more reasonable

I notice itSMFI are more reasonable in their requirements for this kind of thing. All of that seems good guidance and fair enough.

the last thing we want to see in itSMF is open debate

Oh and by the way

In addition, each candidate must provide a minimum of two contactable references.


Castle ITIL

Why don't you ask them directly instead of sitting in "Castle IT Skeptic"?

How exactly do you propose doing that?

What an odd question. How exactly do you propose doing that? And under what conditions do you think one would get a straight answer? or any answer?

And what the heck do you mean by Castle IT Skeptic? I'm open. I answer emails. I solicit and accept feedback. I welcome debate. I've even been known to change my mind. And say sorry.

Skep, this is below you.

Skep, this is below you.

One is used to your way of communicating by now and if one ignores form and concentrates on content one usually finds some useful suggestions for improvement. But we all know that you know most members of the itSMF managment board personally. And you know that at least some of them are serious hardworking people that are making a real effort to improve things, be it at an excruciatingly low pace.

You suggestion of dishonesy (because THAT is what you are accusing them of) is unwarranted. And if I am wrong, please substantiate what you are inferring.


Nobody I know suggested any dishonesty.

We simply are decrying their studied, disciplined efforts at excluding opinions other than those already approved, in what seems to be an effort at increasing harmony at their meeting.

Every organization has a right, perhaps a duty, to ensure their meetings are as productive as possible. The people at IOSM are, no doubt, trying to do just that.

There is, however, something to say for allowing free speech and encouraging an open exchange of ideas. It doesn't really seem that itSMF and IOSM are encouraging such discussion - more's the pity.

I would argue that it is through open, well publicized discussion that ideas can win or lose in the marketplace of ideas. And, that we can, working together as a large group, achieve an optimum set of "good practices."

What we must be concerned about is that, even with the very best intent, a group that consistently favors a particular point of view will, increasingly, become dogmatic and extreme about those ideas. This was the lesson proposed in 1971 by Mark Buchanan the 2005 Nobel Prize winner in Economics.

Cary King, Ph.D., J.D.
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

Dogmatic extremism

I agree with you about the dangers of dogmatism. I think it a mistake to see organisations as having monolithic and fixed 'personalities' - they are, after all, composed of individuals. The itSMF International forum,, has been created with the intention of fostering discussion and debate. Whilst it is moderated to prevent libel, insult, obscenity and spam, it is not, to the best of my knowledge in the business of censoring debate. If it were, then I'd be the first to protest and urge that such practice cease.

I think, though, that it is reasonable to accept that it is not intended either as a platform for invective against the organisation. It may be an unfortunate failing in human objectivity, but I think you'll find it pretty rare for any organisation to seek to foster and publicise all attacks against it. I hope, though, that our forum is mature enough to listen to, consider and, where appropriate, act to rectify the causes of, informed, and, ideally, constructive, criticism.

I thought we were talking about the Chapter Leadership Conferen

As I wrote, organizations have a duty to promote the productivity of their meetings. And, few organizations, precisesly because they are composed of individuals, will wish to support criticism of any sort - valid, constructive criticsim included.

The chapter leadership conference call for faculty has very specific requirements for long-term membership and qualifications.

It gives little doubt as to the limited group, and perspective, that they will tolerate at the meeting. Their intent is clear.

Since it is these same people who will, as you say, "moderate" the sharing of ideas on the isSMF "Forum", then the mechanism to reduce insularity and dogmatism is not obvious.

It might be useful if itSMF demonstrated some small amount of evidence of willingness to foster an open exchange of ideas that include a perspective other than the one already established. This approach does not because it openly includes the prior restraints to speech that might deviate from the establishment's norm.

Cary King, Ph.D., J.D.
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

Mark or James?

James Buchanan wasn't it? Mark is the physicist.


yes, and I got the year way wrong.

So much for answering these things very late at night.

James M. Buchanan, Jr. 1986
"for his development of the contractual and constitutional bases for the theory of economic and political decision-making"

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

I stand by these comments

I entirely agree about the people on the Board and I'm not suggesting dishonesty just politics and PR.

As I have pointed out before, we aren't in Kansas any more. ITIL is big $$$ and big power games are going on.

The criteria for access to the CLC podium are not what a reasonable person might expect in a learning environment. I've my own ideas of where they might originate but I don't speculate on individuals here (unless there is a real good reason). To me it is clear they arise from some undisclosed political motive.

the suggestion that asking what that motive is would yield a straight answer is an odd one. I've sent emails asking similar questions and they sometimes go unanswered. If anyone on itSMF Board wanted to respond to my questions they can do so in the public forum on this site, as Peter Brooks and Alex Kist and Rob Stroud and others have done, or they can contact me in private, as a good many have done too :-D But the idea of asking this question seemed a very odd suggestion. No I do not expect that any political organisation in such a commercial environment would reveal the games going on, no matter how honest the individuals. They simply would not be allowed to say.

There are many good people in itSMF but the culture of the organisation as a whole is not a good one and I don't like many of the behaviours it exhibits, hence the "Castle ITIL" moniker. I go out of my way not to attack individuals. In the past I have refrained from revealing information that would impact on personal lives, and I've pulled punches just because I didn't want this to be about personalities.

So I stand by these comments but I urge readers to see them as reflecting on the entity itSMF not the individuals that make it up (mostly).

And I don't hide behind pseudonyms. My name is Rob England and I live in Pukerua Bay, New Zealand. How about you?

Shabby Speculation

I'm sure all of this is in your head Skep. Paranoia is a chillingly frightening thing. Ask anyone, they'll tell you!

So dissapointed in your stance here - you kick the establishment but make a fortune out of selling its books through your links with Amazon and you continue to massage your own isolated ego with this ill-informed and frankly shabby speculation.

Shame on you!

if you are going to troll

Nice try, but if you are going to troll you should have facts at hand.

I've discussed my income from this blog in the past. Last month I made US$20.63 on Amazon.

I only kick the establishment when it needs it. The establishment's total disinterest in what the ITIL community thinks is what created the vacuum this blog filled.

Last month this blog was read either 12,000 22,0000 or 40,000 times depending on what stats you use, so an awful lot of people find this site useful or at least interesting.

Any reasonable person reading those requirements for someone to actually be allowed to address the little impressionable heads of the middle-aged IT professionals in the CLC would see them as restrictive.[moderated]

If I massage my ego with this blog then that is merely a pleasant side-effect.

Castle IT Skeptic

The source of the information you quoted from must have contained some way to get additional information. Have you considered using it?

The itSMF International website has all the email addresses of all the international board members (, all of whom take emails.

All are open, answer emails, solicit and accept feedback and none of them are hiding behind pseudonyms.

Fine threads...


Nice find.

It seems to me that the Emperor's new clothes really are made of the finest available materials and created by the finest craftspersons in the known world! Only the dumb and blind could miss that...

OK. I'll stop. Sorry. I guess it's likely I've been scratched off a few Xmas card lists with that one, eh?

Still, I wonder who of the (yet to be determined) list of presenters has actually demonstrated that they have taken actions to successfully address some of the organizations problems -- like member satisfaction and retention, for example.

It seems to me that it would be wise to bring in presenters who've successfully addressed these issues in other (perhaps) similar organizations (itSMF is not the first membership organization to ever experience this, I'll bet). That way, the leadership can devise strategies to identify and resolve issues in their organization. If it's just the "usual suspects", then don't be surprised when you get the "usual results".

At this point, I am pleased that I chose to non-renew my membership. The more I find out about the state of things, the happier I am about it. After all, with my v2 books discount already "banked", what's in it for me? Seems like the ROI isn't there. Maybe my expectations were/are too high...

Personally speaking, the money I would have spent on membership, I'll save for the new v4 books. I'd expect that they'll be >= 2.0K USD for the series. The downside is that with the way the exchange rate is going, that's likely going to be only about 500 GBP!! :-( The only upside that I can see here is that I should have plenty of time to save! LOL


When they accepted your membership

When they accepted your membership before, were they aware you're not British?

Interesting folks. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil - particularly from anyone outside of their existing club.

Rather like the members of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club setting the rules for tennis around the world, not just for The Championships, without the consent of the governed.

Consent of the governed? Mmmm. It's July 4 - seems I've heard something akin to that today. Perhaps the world of IT Service Management should declare independence from this group.

Can't imagine why we're replaying this scenario.

Must be some real money in it for the Vendors that keep pushing it so hard. Just how much do the Vendors contribute to these guys?

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

We're not all old boys

I'm British (well, English, actually only I'm not allowed to say that) and I'd just like to say there are plenty of Brits in IT who are just as fed up with the old boys club who run the itSMF, the ISM and the whole ITIL circus as anyone else. My personal belief is they are currently directing all their energies in thinking up a suitably grand title for the advanced ITIL v3 qualification so they can start awarding it to each other.


Lost the plot

It does feel that the eductaional/training side of the equation is an absolute mess because they haven't strated by asking what the industry needs. I hate trying tio explain the training options to clients - I just get a lot of blank looks.

Have to agree it can't be blamed on all of us Brits, there is a quite noisy bunch of us trying to get heard, but I think we are seen as trouble makers. And of course there are also vested interests in the US and Canada to consider.

Conflict of interest

If the president of the iTSMF were say, from senior management or even an employee of a tool vendor would you say there is a bit of a conflict of interest?

I have been in the 'ITIL Service Management World' for a short time, and it is a small world.

The main focus of the iTSMF is to try to get all the people to play nicely ...tool organizations....ATOs...........

A very small world

The main focus of itSMF is to "advance service management" [in IT], i.e. to build the market. Any wonder then that itSMF is vendor heavy? In the USA in particular one vendor has predominated for quite some time: HP. As a result some good people have contributed a lot of energy (and money) but itSMFUSA's governance has been pretty lax in mitigating this influence.

If the main focus of itSMF were say professional development or user representation, then the mix might be quite different. But it isn't.

itSMF's internal management

It is not just ITIL training. This CLC is itSMF's internal management: leader development for the local chapters. Training shemozzle stems from APMG's control of the vendor committees, or lack of. This stuff here stems from the itSMFI Board.

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